New PJ Library® Community Connectors Bring Local Families to Jewish Life

For five years, families raising Jewish children from six months through eight years old in South Palm Beach County have been receiving a monthly gift of free high-quality Jewish children’s books and music sent right to their homes and getting together all around town through PJ Library®. Now Jewish families are getting even more opportunities to get involved and meet new friends, thanks to a recent grant from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which provides free PJ Library books to families raising Jewish children all over the world. “We are delighted that South Palm Beach County was one of this year’s five winning initiatives designed to build social connections among families and engage them in Jewish life, programming and learning,” said local PJ Library Co-Chair Joanna Drowos, who helped bring the initiative to the community in 2012 and has watched it grow. “We look forward to how many more connections we’ll be able to create by hiring our three new part-time Community Connectors – local PJ moms Sarah Finkelstein-Wolfe, Shayna Martinoff and Shaina Yeslow, who live in different parts of South Palm Beach County.

(L-R) Shayna Martinoff, Shaina Yeslow with Tamar, Sarah Finkelstein-Wolfe, PJ Library in South Palm Beach County’s new Community Connectors

“PJ Library not only brings Jewish books into local homes – we also bring the young Jewish community together and help them engage in Jewish life,” said Drowos’ Co-chair, Miriam Klein. “We look forward to having more PJ friends join the 1,900 local families already registered for their free monthly gifts, as well as the 5,500 children, parents and grandparents who enjoy getting together at PJ events large and small all over the community.”

“So many Jewish families from all parts of the community enjoy stories, crafts, concerts and fairs, and learn about holidays and mitzvot,” said Elana Ostroff, local PJ Library Director. Together, they pack food for those in need, meet authors, make hamentashen, and visit a farm, bookstores, synagogues and so much more. Now even more people are hearing about PJ Library and finding ways to engage that feel right and are well-located for their own families.”

“Through our work, young families are able to connect at more intimate gatherings and attend a larger event without feeling overwhelmed by a group of people they’ve never met,” said new Community Connector Shayna Martinoff, who has also helped PJ start up and grow in its first years. “We’ve already had many casual meet-ups and programs around town at places including Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, yogurt shops, and play gyms.”

Ostroff extends a broad invitation: “Whether you’re new to town, a new parent or a longtimer, if you’re looking to connect with new Jewish families for playdates, storytimes or even a mom’s night out, just contact pjlibrary@bocafed.org.

Part of a five-year strategy to expand Jewish engagement in North America, grants such as the one recently received by PJ in South Palm Beach County are funded through the PJ Library Alliance. Partners in the Alliance are the Azrieli Foundation; Carl and Joann Bianco; William Davidson Foundation; Jim Joseph Foundation; William and Audrey Farber Philanthropic Fund; Diane and Guilford Glazer/ Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles; the Marcus Foundation, Inc.; Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation; Susser Family Trust; Walter, Arnee, Sarah, and Aaron Winshall; and two anonymous partners.